This past Sunday was the Girls on the Run DC 5K at Anacostia Park. We’ve been building towards this run for the past few months and my girls were super pumped (as was I!) and I knew they were ready.
As a coach I had to get there a little early to drop off the coach’s bag and pick up our teams bibs. After parking I ran into Cynthia who was working the race – yay!
They always have an awesome announcer and DJ to get the girls moving and grooving before the run. It’s fun to see them all jumping around and excited. It’s a late morning run, starting around 10 am so plenty of time for the girls to get there and get situated. As the girls arrived we gave them their bibs and safety pins and got warmed up. It was a chilly morning but wasn’t too bad and I wore enough layers I didn’t feel much. For the most part they ran with their friends but all girls are required to have an adult running buddy – whether a family member or someone from the community who registers. We start in 3 colored waves and my team was in the second (green) wave.
I ran with one of my youngest charges who is just the cutest! She paced herself well and then when the finish line was in our sights, she sprinted like mad towards the finish (almost leaving me in the dust!!) It was about a 40 minute 5k and then we picked up some water and headed back to our area in the park for medals and final goodbyes. The girls were SO excited about their runs and were cheerfully telling me how they did. I am so proud of my team and am grateful to have been able to guide them over these past 12 weeks.
My Coaching Thoughts…
I have been asked many times about my experience as a coach and I can say it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Girls on the Run is an amazing organization! Their mission is clear, they’re extremely organized and they do so much to support young girls development. While running is at the core of the Girls on the Run program, they have developed a pretty robust 10 and 12 week curriculum with each lesson centered around a different theme. These themes range from cooperation to gratitude, helping others, making friends, finding your strengths and more. They really try to support the girls in all areas of life and incorporate activities both running and non running into these themes. This was my second stint as a coach having also coached last Fall.
In addition to the practice time (3-4 hours a week), it is a bit of work preparing and managing the lessons in the curriculum. It isn’t just letting them run around all afternoon. If you are interested in coaching though, make sure you have the time to commit. Two coaches are required for every practice. Life happens of course but aside from a day at the start of my sinus issues I was there for every practice. It truly is a commitment as not only do you set an example but the girls look to you as a leader, mentor and resource which is not something to take lightly.
They do have other options for volunteering if you want to get involved such as fundraising as a SoleMate, being a 5K running buddy, doing site visits and other volunteer activities at their events. I’ll likely not coach again in the spring (maybe fall) though I’m considering using a spring race for fundraising as a SoleMate. I have loved every second of watching these girls learn and grow into stronger more confident little humans and definitely love being a part of Girls on the Run! Cannot recommend it highly enough 🙂 .
Do you have Girls on the Run in your area? Have you ever coached or volunteered?